For the past years, numerous taser safety issues have been related to the lethality of this electroshock weapon. In fact, it has now been categorized as a less lethal weapon instead of non-lethal. This is because increased risk has been identified in repeated, extended, or continuous exposure to a taser. Receiving a taser’s electrical discharge for more than 15 seconds can cause serious injuries and, in some instances, even death.
Tasers can result in “ventricular arrhythmias, abrupt cardiac arrest, and even death,” according to a 2012 study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Circulation. Multiple media outlets have reported that more than 1,000 people shocked with a taser by police died through the end of 2018, with 153 deaths being attributed to or related to the direct use of tasers.
As the death toll keeps rising, people are now becoming wary of tasers — doubting whether they’re any different from handguns and questioning whether they’re safe to be employed.
Continue reading below to learn more about a taser’s safety mechanisms.
Is The Use Of Tasers Beneficial?
Tasers are designed to produce a low-level shock that temporarily immobilizes someone, making it easier for you to flee for safety or overpower the attacker. When a user pulls the trigger, two insulated wires with probes on the ends are released and embedded in the person’s body. Each trigger pull results in a 5-second burst of electricity. Holding down the trigger results in a continuous flow of electricity. The electric charges released by a taser can cause debilitating shock to the target, rendering them immobile and disoriented.
Compared to standard firearms, tasers are considered less lethal since they employ electric charges to subdue a target. Instead of lead-antimony alloy and steel bullets found in handguns, the taser shoots small barbed probes attached by wires to deliver its 50,000-volt charge that lasts 5 seconds each cycle. A single electric discharge from a taser does not pack enough punch to kill an aggressor. It only causes temporary disorientation, pain, high heart rate, and dehydration.
Subject To Misuse
There is no such thing as zero mortality when it comes to weapons, regardless of whether it’s lethal or non-lethal. Being shot by the taser can significantly raise the heart rate and cause cardiac arrest in some people due to ventricular fibrillation. Additionally, tasers can be used to harm other people without proper training and knowledge of self-defense principles. Misuse of electroshock weapons, such as a taser, can often lead to stun abuse and other serious injuries.
Tasers VS. Handguns: What’s The Difference
Taser-gun mix-ups are rare, but they have recently happened in several states. One famous incident, however, is the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright by former Minnesota police officer Kim Potter. In an attempt to subdue Mr. Wright, she mistakenly grabbed her handgun instead of using her taser.
Such unfortunate events usually happen because of a lack of proper training and the pressure officers feel during dangerous and chaotic situations. To avoid confusion, law enforcement officers are mandated to carry their taser weapons on their weak sides — the side of their nondominant hand — and away from handguns that are carried on their dominant hand’s side.
Additionally, manufacturers of tasers have implemented numerous features and design revisions to reduce the possibility of taser-gun mix-ups — including making them look and feel different from a firearm.
Distinctive taser features include:
- Often made in bright colors (e.g., yellow, white, etc.)
- Weight significantly less than firearms and handguns
- Typically have different grips (tasers often have anti-grab strips)
- Have a safety disable pin different from the trigger safety mechanisms of standard handguns
What Safety Features Do Tasers Have
Over the recent years, tasers have evolved to include more built-in safety features that allow new users to utilize their devices without causing immediate harm to anyone. A safety feature of tasers that distinguishes them from handguns is the presence of safety caps. These ensure that the taser’s probes and insulated wires are protected and securely stored inside while the device is not in use. Once triggered, the safety caps are blown off immediately due to the increased internal pressure. However, before you can pull the trigger, you need to disable the safety switch first. It has to be flipped for the taser to function properly and shoot its probes onto a target.
Some compact or flashlight tasers have safety disable pins that prevent an attacker from taking the taser away and using it against you. A lanyard worn around your wrist attaches to a disabled pin on the bottom of the device. If the taser is forcefully taken from you, the pin will be pulled out, preventing it from working.
Another popular electroshock weapon is the stun gun; learn how stun guns work with this article from Security Forward.